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I recently received and accepted an invitation from a friend to participate in a movement entitled, Pay-It-Forward 2013. Here’s how it works: after receiving the original invitation, I posted a status to my Facebook page indicating that the first 10 people to comment on my status would receive from me, sometime this year, a personal handwritten note with a small gift attached. The gift and its arrival date will remain a surprise until it’s received by the recipient. The caveat… each recipient had to commit to paying it forward by extending an invitation and gift to others.
Despite any negativity we face in today’s society, we can make a positive difference. Paying it forward presents an opportunity to make someone’s day — whether you know them personally or not — by blessing them with a random act of kindness.
I’m asking you to spread the word and the movement, because everyone appreciates being the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness.
Remember, the seeds that we plant today blossom as fruit tomorrow. So pay it forward in 2013!
Until Next Time,
In my last blog, I indicated that because of a phenomenon called negativity bias, our brain is hard-wired to focus on negative events. I can hear you saying, “Well, Mary, since I’m naturally wired to pay attention to the negative, how can I possibly overcome negative thinking? I’m glad you asked!
It’s important to understand that despite widespread negativity, it is not pervasive. That means we have a choice in terms of where to focus our energies. Below are some ways to diminish the power of pessimism.
Leaning Towards Enlightenment
1. Adjust your expectations. We tend to assign weight to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ based on our expectations. Because of self-fulfilling prophecy, we have a way of making false notions become true through our perceptions. Once we convince ourselves that a situation is negative, regardless of whether or not it actually is, we attribute a negative meaning. For example, if you think upon waking, “I’m going to have a lousy day,” your expectations will likely reinforce this perspective. A positive expectation would be “I’m going to have a productive day!”
2. Be mindful of the company that you keep. The Greek philosopher, Epictetus so eloquently stated, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” Enough said.
3. Don’t compare yourself with others. There will always be others who are richer, smarter, stronger, better looking, more popular, (fill in the blank), than we are. Comparing ourselves to others stimulates negativity and misery. The goal is to become better than your previous self. In other words, compete only with your own achievements.
4. Find ways to improve each day. By focusing on incremental self-improvement, you can begin to view learning and change as opportunities. Through dedication and a willingness to change from the inside/out, you can discover solutions to some of life’s toughest challenges and be a source of great inspiration and enlightenment to others.
5. Remember you are what you think. We can’t stop our thoughts, but we can change them. Rather than trying to prevent yourself from thinking a certain thought, identify ways to redirect it. When you find yourself thinking about something negative, ask yourself a provocative question such as, What are my intentions here? or How can I deal with this situation in a more constructive way? or What assumptions have I made that need to be tested? or What’s good about this situation? Ponder the question long enough to create a shift in your thinking.
Negativity can be a deciding factor between success and failure — for you and your organization. To help you accentuate the positive, I leave you with a powerful anonymous quote that a former personal trainer shared with me years ago, which I’ve now committed to memory: “This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind… let it be something good.”
Until Next Time,
World peace advocate and author, Norman Cousins once said, “Nothing clutters the soul more than remorse, resentment, and recrimination. Negative feelings occupy a fearsome amount of space in the mind, block our perceptions, our prospects, our pleasures.” From time to time, we all engage in negative thoughts. However, some people tend to continuously exude toxic energy. They don’t like you, me, their company, job, boss, co-workers, workspace, or themselves. They resist change, new ideas, collaboration and creativity at every turn.
Every negative person has a story, but negativity is self-defeating. It saps energy, focus and motivation; overshadows opportunities; plummets productivity; affects attendance; increases turnover, and most importantly, cripples the human mind, body and spirit.
Because of a psychological phenomenon called negativity bias, our brain is structured with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news and situations. Therefore, we have a natural tendency to give more weight to negative rather than positive experiences — or to threats instead of opportunities. Consider the following:
- During your annual performance appraisal, you zero in on the one “needs to improve” to the exclusion of the five statements of praise.
- During a business meeting, you present an idea that is challenged by one of your colleagues. Instead of viewing this as an opportunity to outline the positive aspects of your idea and why it will work, you simply shut down and vow, “I’ll never again present another idea!”
- While interviewing a job candidate, you noticed that they struggled with one of the questions. Although the candidate did well in the overall interview, you gave them a negative rating because “There was something about the person that I just didn’t like.”
- You can vividly recall an insult hurled at you 10 years ago, as though it happened only yesterday.
- Upon hearing negative remarks about a friend, rather than defend him or her, you jump into the gossiping session with both feet.
- You must work really hard to ward off anxiety and depression.
There are constructive ways to overcome negativity, so no need to become discouraged when facing a little opposition. To learn more, stay tuned for Part 2…
Until Next Time,
Nothing clutters the soul more than negativity. The Abominable ‘No’ Man (source unknown), has an infinite capacity to project negativity:
– a high-hat attitude;
– concentrated narrow-mindedness;
– no vision for looking forward;
– side set eyes that give a one-sided view;
– overly sensitive ears that distort empowering messages;
– loose lips from too much complaining;
– a long nose for sniffing out the negative;
– large hands from a “thumbs down” perspective;
– an over-developed and creased smotherer from sitting on the fence;
– wobbly knees from continuous low stopping; and
– over-sized feet for stomping on ideas that have started to grow.
As we embark upon 2013, let’s do our part to diminish the power of pessimism.
Happy New Year! Now onward and upward!
Until Next Time,